Hospitals in the Cleveland area battling the recent surge in Covid-19 have placed an ad in a local newspaper that reads “Help”.

That word, in large black letters and surrounded by white space, was called out by Ohio’s largest newspaper – a desperate request from six medical systems in the Cleveland area facing a multitude of Covid-19 cases.

The ad was sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth, Summa Health, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

There follows a similar appeal from Minnesota hospitals earlier this month, which ran a full-page newspaper ad saying, “We are heartbroken. We are overwhelmed.”
Sunday’s ad in the Cleveland Plain dealer was in response to the recent Covid-19 health crisis that exploded in northern Ohio, nearly two years after a pandemic that killed more than 810,000 Americans and ravaged many hospitals in the country.

“We are currently in a significant increase and are raising awareness of the importance of vaccination – and emphasize that the majority of people who are hospitalized for Covid are unvaccinated,” said University Hospital spokesman George Stamatis, commenting on the intention of the Display.

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Northern Ohio has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 hospital admissions, accounting for 60% of all hospitalized Covid-19 patients within the state, said Dr. Alice Kim, the Cleveland Clinic’s medical director of operations, in a briefing on December fifteen.

“As the cases increase, we also see how sick these patients are,” said Kim. “They are definitely sicker than we saw in the first few months of the 2020 pandemic.”

The number of hospital admissions related to Covid is at its highest level since December 22, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine said at a press conference on Friday.

Given the stress on hospital staff, DeWine found that nearly all hospitals in northern Ohio have suspended elective surgery.

According to a press release, the governor mobilized more than 1,000 National Guard members on Friday to “help ease the hospital staffing burden caused by the increasing number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.”

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A free drive-through Covid-19 testing site opened in Cleveland on Tuesday, staffed by the Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Health Department.

However, due to overwhelming demand, it was closed at the end of the day. The Ohio Department of Health said more than 1,000 people had been tested but the registration was no longer being accepted.
More than a third of the Cuyahoga population remains unvaccinated, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“We continue to see that most of our patients, especially our intensive care patients, are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Brook Watts, chief medical officer for community health at MetroHealth System, told CNN’s John Berman on Monday.

Watts has looked after Covid patients since the beginning of the pandemic and said the difference this time around is they see younger people, especially younger parents with Covid-19.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking than walking into a Covid patient’s room and seeing pictures of their young children,” said Watts.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated the part of Ohio that is home to 60% of all hospitalized Covid-19 patients in the state. It’s northern Ohio.

CNN’s Liam Reilly and Raja Razek contributed to this report.

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